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October 26, 2012

momentum is killing me

I'm not sure if I'm going to make until Tuesday if I have to keep reading equivocating horseshit like this passing for mainstream election analysis.  It's ABC's The Note, which is, while not quite the Industry Favorite, one of the places those who follow/cover elections turn to first thing in the AM to get a sense of the shape of the day.  And today's entry is all about how the Romney campaign has momentum because the Romney campaign says that they have momentum any time there's a microphone is thrust in its face, which it is doing solely so that ABC's The Note will be duped into writing that the Romney campaign has momentum.

So basically Mission Accomplished, because The Note and the networks are more interested in the narrative than the reporting.

Here's some reporting on "momentum" and what turns out to be the lack thereof.  Oh, it's a little bit dry and full of data and graphs.  But it's not hand-wringing some fake drama into this close but not-as-close-as-they'd-have-you-believe race.  (And for the record, Nate Silver [liked above] was as clear-eyed and professorial when reporting on the Romney surge from four weeks ago, so kindly keep your Liberal Bias hands to yourself.)

Twelve more days.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:17 AM

October 25, 2012

let's speak with actual voters

Here's the thing that's making me scratch my head this morning.  Take this generic news story on women voters.  You have an interview with one of these women voters, and she's asked about who she voted for/who she will vote for, and you get:
She voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but is now torn. Mr. Obama has not lived up to his promise, she said. “My husband and I both have to work full time, and we’re just getting by.”

Obviously, self-interest is one of the more dominating motivations for determining one's vote, but when did we arrive at the point where, "My life is hard, let's replace the president," became respectable reasoning?

I'm not bringing this up to ridicule the lady quoted above.  That was just the example I've read this morning.  But I've seen it hundreds of times in the past months, some damn American who was all for Obama back when but didn't get that promotion at Burger King, so Obama really isn't doing enough.

Two issues here: first one is, the president really has jack diddly doo to do with the economy, which is driven by cyclical forces and planet-wide trends in ways that are pretty much impossible to fathom.  It's like the weather.  The president can try to seed some clouds, or throw some sandbags down, but the economy pretty much does what it wants to do.  The president's just the guy that gets to take credit/the fall for it, and how that has not permeated news coverage of this thing is beyond me.

The second issue is that the economy has little to do with your shitty life.  We're a nation of three hundred plus million people.  The "economy" is determined by nationwide statistics that impact your personal life pretty much not at all.  The unemployment rate can tick up or down by a tenth of a point, but it's not like when it hits some threshold you automatically lose your job.  And conversely, say you do get downsized or JD'ed, that does not mean that the economy took a turn for the worst.  In fact, back during the boom of the late 90s?  Some people actually lost their jobs!  It's a forest/tree problem.

It's not an utter lack of reason, but it's lazy as hell, and endemic to boot.  And it's largely why I think that all Let's Speak With Actual Voters should be avoided at all costs.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:58 AM

October 23, 2012

the third debate

Sad but true, this is the last post-debate post of the election.  From here on in, the candidates get to only say things in front of crowds who tend not to talk back or interrupt.

And you may have heard that Obama handled this one well.  He did.  Foreign policy's not one of those fields that leaves room for innovation (unless you are Donald Rumsfeld, in which case innovation equals disaster-capitalism style unilateral aggression), so the president stuck with the facts and restated his achievements, while keeping the heat on Romney.

Romney, however, tanked.  You couldn't tell from watching (but for a slight Nixon-esque sweat that broke out towards the end), but Romney not only lost the debate, he proved himself dangerously unqualified for the seat of Commander-In-Chief.  His Iran-only focus is utterly naive, his saber-rattling at China is stupid, and, well, Syria is not Iran's route to the sea, as Iran has a couple thousand mile coastline.  He is an unserious man, and either a poor student or the victim of a notoriously poor teacher (Dan Senor).

The chances of this are very slim, but if you are actually considering voting for Mitt Romney, just know this: that silly half-grin that some focus group decided was presidential, which stays on his face even as he is being schooled and embarrassed on national TV, is the same slack-eyed rictus that will occupy his face as President Romney blinks as his advisers try to explain to him how maps work for the fifth time.

Only two more weeks!

Posted by mrbrent at 7:28 AM

October 22, 2012

changing consensus on economic inequality

Read this paragraph, from this:
The yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots — and the political questions that gap has raised about the plight of the middle class — has given rise to anti-Wall Street sentiment and animated the presidential campaign. Now, a growing body of economic research suggests that it might mean lower levels of economic growth and slower job creation in the years ahead, as well.

If you click through you will notice that the source is not a Krugman op-ed or a DailyKos diary, but rather an actual news story.  So what?  So consensus is starting to settle on the fact that not only is economic inequality endemic, but that it has lasting, negative economic effects.

Think of it this was: economic inequality is now more easily admitted as a systemic problem than global warming (which only threatens to ends civilization as we know it).

So awesome, cool.  Now let's start talking about how to fix it.

Posted by mrbrent at 8:16 AM